Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jellybeans and Color Explosions!

I've had a busy time lately. I've been trying new things, stretching both my color choices and my techniques. The first adventure was participating in an Alphabet Project. Members of the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE) volunteer to create a 2 inch block with a letter and something that starts with that letter on it. The blocks are then assembled by one of our members into a mosiac and donated to a children's hospital. My letter was J and anybody who knows me knows I love jellybeans so this was a great letter for me. The first thing I did was condition, texture and bake the white block. The letter J is done with a marbeled clay in a combinaton of hot to light pink then handcut, The "jellybeans" are marbeled combinations of several bright colors, then the clay is swirled into jellybean shapes.

My next adventure was a challenge by The Art Bead Scene. Every month the powers-who-be select a painting to base a beading challenge on. The challenge is to use art beads in interpreting the painting. This month's
challenge was Wassily Kandinsky's painting , Farbstudie Quadrate (Color Study of Squares). My first look at the challenge piece reminded me of the extruder retro canes we made at a CMSPCG guild meeting earlier this year. This challenge was an excellent way to use this technique. I cut circles of the bright colors, stacked then into a log and rolled it small enough to load into the extruder tube (I use the green Makins extruder). I used a large square die and extruded the bright colors into a long square log, then cut and stacked the logs to make a cane. The individual logs put trogether was remarketly like the challenge piece!

The cane was then sliced and wrapped around scrap clay and smoothed into long oval. I used more slices to make beads and swirled them in a bead roller. More beads and spacers were made from the solid colors. Now I'm ready to bake, tumble, buff, apply finish and assemble. Here is a picture of the various bead components I made to go with either the oval or the swirled pendant.

Now I will admit that as much as I enjoy making the beads, I am not that great at putting it all together. Fortunately my sister came by to kidnap me so we could go checkout the new Micha
els store that recently opened in our area. I asked her advice, she made suggestions, I added the patterned clay to the back of silvertone earring findings, checked my supplies and off to Michaels we went to pick up the few more things we needed. When we got back, she put the bracelet and earrings together. This was definitely a collaborative effort. Many thanks to my sister, Rita Smith, an artist in many mediums in her own right, for her help in making my beads shine. I think between the two of us we managed to nicely interpret Kandinsky's painting! We named it the Color Explosion Bracelet and Earrings.

I enjoy participating in these challenges because they do make me stretch my boundaries. Wonder what The Art Bead Scene will be using for their inspiration for July????

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Six Silly Things that Make Me Happy

Lynda of Diva Designs tagged me today to list “Six Silly Things That Make Me Happy”. That got me to thinking because I’m basically a pretty happy girl and love a bit of silliness now and again so I decided I would play along. My theory about life is that laughter adds to the enjoyment of life. I'd much rather have laugh lines than frown lines, wouldn't you?
In addition to letting Lynda know I'm playing, I am tagging six of my favorite bloggers to play along. Come on and play, it's summertime and silliness is part of what keeps us young!

Six Silly Things That Make Me Happy
1. A happy surprise when I open the mailbox.
2. Watching my dogs play – the tiny little toy poodle thinks she’s bad!
3. Getting together with friends to play with clay.
4. A good “feel good” movie on tv.
5. Watching the butterflies dance in my flower garden.
6. The fresh bloom of the pink rose my daughter gave me for Mother's Day last year.

OK – now I get to pass the torch to six of my favorite bloggers. Lynda would normally be in there but since she sent this to me, I guess I’ll give her a break!


OK ladies – it’s your turn – what six silly things make you happy?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Studio Recycling or Saved from the Dumpster!!!

My dad was a recycler before it became the popular thing to do, so I've been exposed to the premise since I was small that you don't throw anything away if there is any possibility of it being useful! My late husband was just as bad! I have a storage building stuffed to the rafters to prove it. And that's after several huge garage sales and giving a lot of it away when we moved into the motorhome back in 1997.

But I digress... back to my display unit. I wish that I had thought to take a picture of this unit before I went to work on it.

As preparation for the move to our new building, the law firm I work for started a "clean up – clear out" process. One of the items that they were getting rid of was an old white board. You know, the kind that you have to use special markers to write on or it won't come off. Yep, you guessed it, somebody wrote on it with regular magic markers. So this white board was sitting out in the hall waiting for one of the runners to take it to the trash.

But this wasn't just a plain old whiteboard. This one was in a very nice wooden frame (that matched the conference room furniture) with piano hinged doors that closed it up. Inset into the outer doors was cork so that you could use pushpins to stick papers on it. I figured if nothing else, the piano hinges might come in handy so I had one of the runners put it in my car. They know me here... nothing surprises them!

It was still in the storage building when I started my first studio remodel – it's been an ongoing process for a while now. I love butterflies and have acquired quite a collection of butterfly pins over the years and was looking for a way to display them. My first thought was to get a picture frame and fill it with fiberfill, fabric and criss-crossed ribbons like I've seen done elsewhere. Then it hit me that this would be a perfect use for the doors on that old whiteboard. Plus I could get double duty for the same amount of wall space!

I scavenged some crushed taffeta in a deep burgundy from my sister and glued it to the magic marker ruined whiteboard. I then added several wooden pieces about ¾ inch high (recycled from old bunk bed rails) all the way across, then screwed in small cup hooks about every two inches, alternating from one row to the next to hang jewelry items on.

For the front of the doors (where the cork inserts were) I used the same crushed taffeta along with just enough fiberfill to make it "puffy". Color coordinated ribbon criss-crossed diagonally with thumbtacks where the ribbons crossed gave it more character. The final touch was to add decorative trim along the outside, let it all dry and hang it.

Open, I can display jewelry, earrings, whatever can hang on the little cup hooks. Closed, I can use straight pins display some of the butterfly pins that are in my collection along with polymer clay items that I've made in classes or purchased as inspiration. It's a win-win situation!

What have you recycled or repurposed lately? I think I've about got my studio the way I want it so maybe I can get back to claying...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award!

I know I promised ya'll another repurposing project for my next blog, but I'm having photographic issues (can't get the silly camera to focus right -- I realized when I downloaded the pictures onto the computer last night that it's operator error - forgot I had the camera set for macro!) plus I got an email from Eugena of Eugena's Creations telling me that I had received the One Lovely Blog award. I hope you will take a moment to visit Eugena's blog, where she writes about what she's been designing. She is one creative lady! She first got my attention with her faux cloisinne and has long been one of my favorite polymer clay artists. I'm honored that she selected my blog as one to receive this award. Congratulations are also due on a new project she's just finished, as you will see if you go to her blog.

Now it's my turn to pass this award on to some other blogs. Here are the rules:

*Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.

*Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.

*Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award....And here are my 15 newly-discovered lovely blogs (not in any particular order):

When you have a few minutes to rest, relax and get inspired, go visit these blogs. Each is written by a talented artist whose work is an inspiration to me.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Studio Recycling or what happens when claustrophobia hits!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

My studio has been evolving. I had finally moved so much stuff in to "make my life easier", that I could barely walk through and couldn't find anything! Soooooooooooo…

Saturday I started reorganizing, moving some of the "stuff" that had collected in the studio out to the storage building and bringing some other "stuff" in from the storage building. While this might not sound like a productive thing to do, it worked out very well.

I needed a place where I could store my blocks of clay, both the 2 oz. size from the local stores and the 1 lb blocks that I order online. I also needed a place where I could store beads, jewelry findings and all the little miscellanea that goes with working with polymer clay. I have some cabinets with deep drawers, but small things tend to get lost in there.

I had purchased two drawer units from one of our local "big box" stores. The thing I like about these particular drawer units (I already have three that I'm using elsewhere) is that they are all wood – no pressed board! And they were on sale!!!)

Although they come with wheels, I elected to sit them on a table that I already had in the studio to make them a more workable height. It worked well enough but added to the claustrophobia. It also put the drawers too high for me to easily see what was in them while seated at my work table.

While moving some of the "stuff" out to the storage building, I found two wooden cassette cabinets that my late husband had before we married so they probably date back to whenever cassette tapes started replacing 8-track tapes. They have been in storage since 1997 when we moved out of a perfectly good 3 bedroom house into a 35' motorhome (long story for another day!) The cassette cabinets were PERFECT! Or at least with a little bit of work, they became perfect! They had wooden dividers spaced for a standard cassette case. I pulled some of the wooden dividers out and now have plenty of storage for my blocks of clay and in a very organized way. But they had very tiny feet – only about ¼" high – so I build a 6" high platform to raise them up and that made the base of my unique studio cabinet.

After a good sanding and a couple of coats of trim paint (left over from the last time I painted the studio), I set them on the platform and filled one cabinet with clay and the other with beads and findings. Then I applied sand paper and paint to the two drawer units to give it all a more cohesive look. The drawer units were light wood, the cassette cases were very dark wood. But now they look like they belong together.

I guess the morale of this story is – look and see what you already have that can be repurposed before you go buying something new. I'm getting good at repurposing. I'm going to close with the promise of another repurposing project for a very cool display unit in my next post that I think you will all be impressed with!

An it's a good thing too because one of the blogs that I follow is have a bead give away contest! You can read more about it here. If I'm the lucky winner, I'll need space to put new to me beads and findings to play with. Wish me luck! And go check it out!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sharing the Wealth…

Recently I signed up for a bead exchange with some of the members of the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy (PCAGOE) and this week I got the pay-back! The participating artists made and sent three sets of beads to other artists! Kind of scary when you think about it… your friends and family tell you that your work is good, your designs interesting and attractive… but sending your work to other polymer clay artists is another story completely. You look at their work online and try to make something that they will like. You throw the first batch in your bead box and start over – they have to be good! The second batch is better – maybe some keepers here. The deadline is fast approaching.

Finally all three sets (see picture above) are baked, tumbled, a protective coating put on them, arranged on a temporary wire and ready to go! Hurrah! I drop them in the mail… my anxiety goes down and my anticipation goes up! For every box I mailed out, I'll get one in exchange.

Now the fun begins! Yesterday I got a package in the mail from Jill at Palumbo Jewelry. Jill made a set of beads that look like jade in an antique pewter setting. Excellent craftsmanship and design. In addition she put coordinated canes on the backs so I can actually wear them either way. I can't wait to put it all together. Jill told me that she made molds for the faux pewter settings. After she made the setting pieces, she applied two different PearlEx powders to get the pewter look. I wish you could all see these in person. They are just too cool!

That's one reason that I love to participate in exchanges like this. In addition to being challeneged to create for another artist, you also get cool things in return! Instant inspiration and, as in this case, a new technique to try!

Today when I went by the post office on my way in to work I had TWO packages! What a great way to start the day! The first package I opened was from Sally at Silver Gate Studio. Sally's beads were vibrant with lots of powerful color! I LOVE them! Sally mentioned in her note that they were a bit bright but I love bright colors and already have a mental plan for just how to string those beads. Sally didn't post a picture to the Flickr site so I'll have to wait until I can take a good picture to post for ya'll to see just how gorgeous they are!

The other package was from Kate at OrganicOdyessy and I had already seen pictures online. I have to tell you, the pictures do not do these beads justice. Kate made faux ivory – which is a technique that is still on my "learn to do" list – beads and embellished them with faux turquoise. The contrast is very pleasing to the eye and I just happen to have some turquoise beads that will set these focal beads off beautifully.

This has been so much fun and is definitely worth the anxiety on the creating end. I always push myself just a little bit harder when I know that what I am making is going to someone who will appreciate and understand the work that goes into it.